More billionaires or human survival?

August 18, 2021
Jeff Bezos. Photo: Flickr

If the fact that the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, spent about $5.5 billion so he could enjoy “roughly four minutes of weightlessness in suborbital space” doesn’t outrage you then how about the fact that the same amount of money could secure vaccines for 2 billion people in low-income countries?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 31.7% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 23.7% is fully vaccinated but only 1.3% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

Meanwhile the world’s richest countries have hogged 75% of all vaccine doses and in the US alone more than a million doses have gone to waste.

According to Chuck Collins of “The world’s billionaires have seen their wealth surge by over $5.5 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, a gain of over 68%. The world’s 2,690 global billionaires saw their combined wealth rise from $8 trillion on March 20, 2020 to $13.5 trillion as of July 31, 2021, drawing on data from Forbes.

“Global billionaire total wealth has increased more over the past 17 months of the pandemic than it did in the 15 years prior to the pandemic. Between 2006 and 2020, global billionaire wealth increased from $2.65 trillion to $8 trillion, a gain of $5.35 trillion.”

Bezos’ wealth increased by $79.4 billion during the pandemic and an estimated 325 people joined the billionaire club since the pandemic began. This is roughly one new billionaire minted every day, Collins added.

COVID-19 has pushed 200 million more people around into extreme poverty: 11 people are now dying of hunger and malnutrition each minute, outpacing even the growing Covid-19 fatalities which totalled 4.3 million by August 13.

Meanwhile, Big Pharma is raking in billions from over-charging countries for COVID-19 vaccines.

New analysis by the People's Vaccine Alliance reveals that “Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments as much as USD$41 billion above the estimated cost of production” and their CEOs have become billionaires.

Furthermore, these companies sell 90% of the vaccines they produce to rich countries. While some rich countries have started re-distributing a small portion of this to poorer countries, this is far from enough to address the global vaccine apartheid.

Green Left has long argued that the climate emergency starkly demonstrates that the billionaire-profit-first system that is capitalism poses an existential threat to humanity. Now we see the same demonstrated in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capitalism is not only morally reprehensible but it has become a deadly threat to the liveability of this planet.

If you agree with us you can become part of the solution through your active involvement, by making a donation to our Fighting Fund and by becoming a Green Left supporter.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.